Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Exodus 23:20-22

To those who have been with me for a time, this is a repost of a previous standalone post from back in March of 2020. I find it to be relevant to the topic and offer it to those who may have joined this blog recently.

My intent with the previous posting was to remind us that the claiming of His friendship had some conditions. Although this is an Old Testament promise, please consider if this truth may be applicable to our standing before Him in our present day.

Exodus 23:20-22

20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.

21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him

22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

Being The Lord’s Enemy

The Old Testament seems to always have a special little problem when I read it. But this time, it is not just a little problem. As I was reading Exodus this morning I came across the verse above and it stopped me in my reading for a couple of reasons.

God will be an enemy?

An Enemy Does Not Obey

Many times I have heard or thought myself of how the Lord is on the side of a certain people group.  Take for instance in the Old Testament.  It was commonly thought (correctly at times) that the people of Israel had God on their side.  I suppose that is how it appears, (I hope I am not splitting hairs here) but it seems that is not exactly what is going on here.  The initial condition that has to be met is that the people “pay careful attention to him and obey his voice”, “do not rebel against him” and “carefully obey his voice and do all that I say”, THEN God will be an enemy to their enemies, an adversary to their adversaries.

Note that the obedience to the voice of the Lord brings the people into the will and desire of the LORD Himself.  The “enemy” here does not gain an adversary in God if the people of God obey God.  God’s enemy does not change (unless of course they change into His friends).  The people simply join God in having the same enemy.

Is our motivation in obeying God simply to earn a big brother to beat up a personal enemy that may have hurt our feelings or made us cry.


An Enemy Is Not Pardoned

What is tarnation is going on with verse 21?  “he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him”

I don’t know about you but whenever I hear “my name is in him” I automatically think of a theophany.  Also the fact that the one referred to is “an angel”, I want to think it is a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Himself.  Usually the Old Testament mentions “the Angel of the Lord” as what is commonly accepted as a theophany – I don’t know.  If it is the Lord Himself or a representative (angel), the message is the same.

I fear that sometimes modern nations fall into this wrong-headed thinking.  They give lip service to God and call on Him to fight for their nation.

This gives me pause. Why would God do this when the Word clearly describes His nation as a holy nation of saints that is pulled from each nation on earth.

1 Peter 2:9

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

I suppose judgement must fall on nations who do evil, (and maybe that is the idea of verse 21?), but to think that God is pleased when innocents die in war, or enlisted men are killed simply due to an imaginary line in the sand, this is beyond my understanding.  I admit my past desire to see justice after 9/11, but looking back on those days, I see my understanding of God’s will for this planet was wrong.

My Confusion

If someone can explain verse 21 to me, I sho nuff would appreciate it.  How could it be said that he (God or God’s messenger) would not pardon their transgressions, when many times the Old Testament clearly states that the Lord Himself is plenteous in mercy

Psalm 86:5

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Ps 86:15

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Ps 103:8

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

It is good to remember His mercy to us as we stumble through this life, through misunderstandings, through fears, through trials and bad decisions.

He is plenteous in mercy, and that draws me to Him. Oh to love Him just a bit more today. Simply for the sake of how wonderful He is.

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you would like to receive daily posts from Considering the Bible, click on the “Follow” link below

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4 thoughts on “Conditional Security – Exodus 23:20-22

  1. That was a thought provoking message! Good observations there. Also, I personally think the “I won’t forgive him” passage is meant in a temporary way vs an eternal way. The individual will die physically or be rejected as God’s enemy, out of transgression (knowingly doing evil)


    1. Thanks for the comment and encouragement. I see the temporal application and agree this may be the intent. As I mentioned in post, I am wide open on suggestions for understanding this passage.
      Thanks again and may the Lord bless you.


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